Last week’s jaw-dropping bloody final moments of Disney+’s latest Marvel Cinematic Universe series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier sure left audiences reeling as they had to wait a week to see the outcome of John Walker’s murder of a Flag Smasher in public and now the fifth episode is here and it’s glorious.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
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Clues: Walker is Going Even More Rogue, A Villain’s Off the Play Field and We’re Gonna Need a Montage (MONTAGE!)
- After murdering the Flag Smasher, Walker takes off to a nearby abandoned warehouse, where he is confronted by Sam and Bucky who try to talk him down, only for him to retaliate and try to justify he killed Lemar Hoskins’ killer, to which the titular duo warn against thinking as it was Karli who killed him. Unwilling to turn himself in, a Civil War-esque battle ensues between the three in which Walker nearly wins as he briefly damages Bucky’s robotic arm and tears the wings off Sam’s exosuit, though they are narrowly able to overpower him by breaking his arm and Bucky taking the vibranium shield and frustratingly leaving it at an exasperated Sam’s feet.
- The duo later meet up with Torres, who says a higher-branch government agency is taking over jurisdiction in the hunt for Karli given Walker’s actions and notices Sam’s destroyed wings, who tells him to keep them as he leaves with the shield.
- Back in Washington, D.C., Walker meets with the government council behind his assignment as Captain America, who strip him of the moniker and give him a dishonorable discharge. Distraught over the news with his wife attempting to comfort him, they are interrupted by the arrival of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who offers him a path forward when she calls him.
- Back in Latvia, Karli and the Flag Smashers visit the GRC refugee gamp, only to find it has been raided and emptied by the council under accusations of the camp aiding and abetting terrorists, further inciting her anger.
- Bucky catches up with Helmut Zemo, who is visiting the Sokovian memorial and taunts Bucky that he’ll let the hero live but is surprised to find himself held at gunpoint and ultimately resigning to his fate. However, Bucky pulls the trigger and reveals he emptied his gun, giving him closure in regards to Zemo and turning him over to Wakanda’s Dora Milaje, with Ayo confirming they’ll deliver him to the Raft to live out his days and advising Bucky to stay scarce in Wakanda for a while.
- Meanwhile, Sam returns to Baltimore to visit Isaiah Bradley with the shield in tow to re-discuss his past and learns of the how he was one of multiple soldiers submitted to various forms of the serum but was the only one to survive and was thus submitted to various experiments over 30 years, with his love being told he had died and not being allowed to send her letters. Isaiah only escaped with the help of a nurse who faked his death, allowing him to remain under the radar in the real world and turning down Sam’s offer to reveal the truth as he believes he will be killed in retaliation. While Sam tries to defend the government in regards to the future of the shield, Isaiah counters that there will never be a Black Captain America and that “a self-respecting Black man would never” take up the mantle given his history.
- Defeated and awaiting a lead on Karli, Sam returns to Sarah and his nephews, who reveal that the buyer for the boat backed out and has left them uncertain on the future, though he remembers that a lot of people in town owe his folks favors and decides to call them all in, getting parts to fix up the boat to a certain degree. Bucky arrives with a gift from Wakanda for Sam and helps him fix the boat up while mildly flirting with Sarah.
- Walker visits Lemar’s family and lies to them that he killed the person behind Lemar’s death in an effort to give them closure.
- Back in Madripoor, we see Sharon on the phone with Batroc offering him a job with a lucrative payday and noting he’ll want to accept to job.
- Being sent away from fixing up more of the boat by Sarah, Sam and Bucky head back to the house and throw the shield around a bit, with Bucky apologizing to Sam for he and Steve not thinking of the racial implications involved in the shield’s past when they planned to gift Sam the shield. He also reveals that part of his frustration for Sam retiring the shield was that he believed it to be the closest thing to family he had left, though Sam comforts him and tells him he needs to look to himself to tell him who he is and that he needs to make amends with people instead of avenging his Winter Soldier past like he has. Bucky thanks Sam and heads off to await Sam’s call with a lead on the Flag Smashers.
- With the boat all fixed up, Sarah decides to keep it, much to Sam’s happiness. Determined to correct the wrongs put upon Isaiah in the past and forge a better path, Sam begins training with the shield around the property, becoming proficient in time for what comes next.
- Batroc, who was kept out of prison by Sharon, meets with Karli to deliver weapons to help in her next attack on the GRC in New York, who are prepping to vote on the Patch Act, which will move 20 million-plus refugees back to their countries of origin. Torres is able to track the VPNs the group are using to New York, where Sam is able to deduce the GRC will be their next attack. The Flag Smashers successfully invade the council while they are in the middle of debating whether to move forward with the act and take them all hostage.
- In a post-credits scene, we see Walker is building his own shield and embedding one of his medals into the shield, unwilling to give up the fight.
Takeaways: Sam is Taking Up the Shield, A New Secret Agent Has Arrived and Karli is Too Far Gone
It’s a moment fans have been desperate to see since he was gifted the shield in Avengers: Endgame‘s finale and, though we’re still not quite there, the groundwork has finally been laid for Sam to properly take up the shield in action and become the new Captain America with Bucky still at his side. While one villain has been taken off the play field as Zemo is properly back in prison, there is still Karli and the Flag Smashers the titular duo has to go up against and while Sam will still try with all his might to get through to her before she continues down a darker path, her actions in this episode seem indicative that she is too far gone to be redeemed and will likely need to be put down or beaten in a proper brawl and imprisoned. Meanwhile, the MCU has officially introduced audiences to Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who in the comics was well-known for her role as both a love interest for Nick Fury as well as a notable villain, and with Marvel promising big plans for the character we could very well see some interesting paths forward for the character. Having been stripped of the Captain America namesake, Walker is not taking it lying down as he is getting to work on his new shield, preparing to become the antihero he is best known as in the comics, U.S. Agent.
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Predictions: Walker is Now U.S. Agent, Sam is Captain America, Torres is the New Falcon
- De Fontaine’s introduction into the MCU is arguably the one with the biggest implication for the future of the franchise, with a new Vanity Fair article revealing that the character was actually supposed to make her debut in the film world with Black Widow prior to appearing on the series before the film was pushed back due to the pandemic. It may be currently unclear whether her role in the Scarlett Johansson-led film will be kept intact, but de Fontaine’s connections to Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra in the comics, it certainly seems indicative that her appearance in the two projects will lead into the forthcoming Secret Invasion series in development at the streaming platform, as well as her role as Madame Hydra and the possibility she may be putting together her own band of villains beginning with Walker. One possibility could be the Thunderbolts, whom Walker has connections with in the comics as their warden, or should it be revealed that she’s actually the Power Broker of the series it could be setting up the Femme Force, of which Sharon Carter was a member in the comics.
- It’s something I’ve felt coming since he was first introduced in the pilot and now with Sam leaving the wings in his hands and heading down a path to become the next Captain America, it certainly seems time for Joaquin Torres to become the new Falcon of the MCU. Given the series’ exploration of racial themes with its heroes and world, it seems it would be the ultimate justice to establish Joaquin as the first Latinx superhero in the franchise.